Excitement abounds as fair time approaches

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

Young boys enjoy a train ride at the carnival during last year’s Central Montana Fair.

File photo

Fair Board Vice Chair Alan Shammel is excited for this year’s fair

“We’ve got a lot of new things to see,” he said.

This year’s fair will feature daily programs at the gate, new rides and a wide variety of entertainers in the Trade Center, gazebo, beer gardens and elsewhere.

There will be familiar faces, but there will also be CMF first-timers.

One of these first-timers is Clay Walker, a Texas native and platinum country recording artist. Walker will headline the Friday Night Show.

Over at the gazebo, Dan Dubuque, Dan Henry and Haeli Allen will also be making their Central Montana Fair debuts.

The Trade Center will have some of the same talent, but expect it to be bigger and better, Shammel said. Last year, balloonist Jeremy Telford made a giant dragon out of balloons. This year, he’s going to try to top his performance, as is Louie Foxx, a Minnesota-based magician making his second straight appearance at the CMF. The nature display (hosted by Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Bureau of Land Management) will also return to the Trade Center, and this year it will feature an aquarium.

“For a prize, people can guess what kinds of fish we have in there,” Shammel said. “Kids love it.”

John Dunnigan, who is opening for Walker on Friday night, will also perform in the Trade Center throughout the week for a second straight year. He takes requests and likes to banter with the crowd.

Performers, however, are just one aspect of the entertainment one can expect to find at the Central Montana Fair. Those coming out are encouraged to see the PRCA Rodeo Wednesday and Thursday night.

“Brett Maxwell and his rodeo committee really work hard to bring in the best quality rodeo,” Shammel said. “They are a hard-working bunch.”

 The usual fair highlights will return this year, including the Bump n’ Run and Demolition Derby on Saturday.

Dreamland Carnival is also returning, and Shammel said they have promised some new rides.

“Hopefully they will be bigger and better than ever,” he said. “They are an impressive carnival and a nice, clean act.”

Shammel said he can’t say for sure what they’ll bring this year, as they never provided a list, but there is a chance they will bring a double ferris wheel.

Not into carnival rides? That’s quite alright, as there is something for everybody at the Central Montana Fair: spinning and weaving demonstrations, sheep and swine showmanship, a livestock sale, karaoke, a selfie booth, rabbit agility, calf dressing, the beer gardens (which will also have entertainment) and– for the first time in years – people can get their Bingo on.

“The old Bingo barn has been revived and there will be Bingo each day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” Shammel said.

All events are listed on the daily programs, Shammel added, so make sure to get one. Picking up a program also qualifies fairgoers for prizes.

“Put your name and phone number on the program and you have a chance to win prizes from certain merchants,” he said. “There are some really nice prizes.”

It’s going to be a good fair, Shammel said, and he appreciates all who have made it possible, especially all the sponsors (there are many new ones) and the board.

“The fair board is really stepping up,” Shammel said. Board trustees include Brett Maxwell (Chair), Connie Ahlgren, Candi Zion and Pam Vosen.

 First and foremost, Shammel said he appreciates the fair staff as well as the volunteers. In fact, he’d love to see more volunteers come forward.

“We’re always looking,” he said. “The volunteers are what makes the fair work, and they come in from all over the area. It truly is a county fair.”

Those interested in getting involved can contact Shammel at 350-1772.

Shammel said he encourages people to come out to the fair, especially on Thursday (Lewistown Day), as gate passes are free.

“I just hope people come out and forget about the drought for a day and have some fun,” he said. “And, maybe, by the time they get home, there will be rain.”

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